Triplets Uinita (Nita), Laviniav (Nia) and Ofaloto (Ofa) Piukala Photo: Jonty Dine

Seeing triple on Nelson’s netball courts

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Uinita, Lavinia and Ofaloto Piukala could well be the first set of triplets to play for the Silver Ferns.

The ten-year-old Stoke School students are netball mad and their talents have been turning heads on the court at Saxton this season.

Born just one minute apart from each other, the girls have been inseparable ever since.

They say they love spending time together, training for netball, playing on the playground or studying maths.

Though Nita and Ofa are identical and Nia is a spitting image of her sisters, the girls says they differ greatly in personality.

“We are kind of the opposite of each other,” Ofa says.

Ofa describes herself as the outgoing one, who likes to speak for the others. Nia says she is adventurous while Nita says she is the shy one.

There is also a distinctive scar on Ofa’s forehead which helps to identify who is who.

“We used to always get mistaken for one another, but then I ran into the corner of a wall,”

As well as the contrasting personalities, the trio also enjoy different roles on the netball court.

Nia prefers attack, Ofa defence, while Nita likes playing centre.

When Ofa expressed interest in taking up netball last year, short on players, she convinced her sisters to also join the team.

After just one season together, the girls have shown great potential, guiding their side to victory in the year five Nelson competition.

“It’s really cool, it’s fun,” Ofa says.

She says their presence often draws curiosity from the opposition.

“People think we are twins, I say I’m a triplet and then they try and find the other one.”

The girls say they are very competitive with each other.

When asked who the best player is, they give three different answers.

To remain neutral, their mother simply cheers ‘go triplets’ from the side-line.

The triplets also have four older sisters with their father the only male in a household of nine.

Nia jokes that her dad copes, though, as he has lots of people to help around the house.

While the girls love spending time together outside the classroom, they prefer to forge their own paths inside it.

Attending Broadgreen Intermediate in 2021, they hope to have different classes after six years at Stoke School.

“We have to share most things like clothes,” Ofa says. “Mum loved dressing us in the same outfits.”

Despite the quirks that come with it, the girls say being one-third of a triplet makes them feel very special.

The girls have not thought much about what they might want to do when they grow up, but they have big dreams.

“Maybe the Silver Ferns one day,” Ofa says.

Stoke teacher Caitlin Ryan has taught all three of the girls and says they are valued members of the school.

“They work hard, they train hard, they are the most gorgeous girls.”